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Bill Moyers Education. (2011) Bill Moyers ('Bill Moyers Journal The Conversation Continues.') New.

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Us 35, United States 19, Reid 16, Boehner 16, America 13, Afghanistan 7, U.s. 7, Washington 7, Ronald Reagan 6, Madam 6, Alaska 6, Maryland 5, United States Senate 4, Mrs. Boxer 4, George Bush 3, Mr. Boehner 3, Indiana 3, Louisiana 3, Mr. Harkin 3, United States Congress 3,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Bill Moyers  Education.  (2011) Bill Moyers ('Bill  
   Moyers Journal The Conversation Continues.') New.  

    July 30, 2011
    7:00 - 8:45pm EDT  

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believe that we can compromise. i think the only place to resolve this crisis is in compromise. i believe i have additional time, but i just want to know where i am. i'll wrap up very shortly. as we know, it takes both houses to pass a bill, and it shouldn't be this difficult for congress to do its most fundamental job under the constitution. it doesn't take an amendment to the constitution to balance the budget. how can i say that? because in the 1990's, we balanced the budget. we created 23 million jobs, new jobs. we raised the incomes of everybody in america. and the fact is that we did what was necessary to put us on a track to pay down the debt of our country by 2012. we sent a signal to the marketplace. mr. president, we could do this again if we get real, if we get serious. i believe there is a bipartisan
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consensus here in the senate waiting to lift our country and our future if senators are willing to sit down and forge it and make it real, if we stop talking past each other. the world's most deliberative body could become that again. but the reason it's not viewed as that today is not that the institution itself has failed, it's not that it can't be deliberative. it's because the people in it have not yet decided to live in the tradition of those predecessors who earned the reputation for this institution. it's because unlike the years when i first came here in the 1980's, some have decided to use this institution for a 24/7, 365 days a year campaign to make everything that happens here the prisoner of ideology and politics rather than the instrument of debate and decision. i think it would be -- do us good to remember that until recent history, this institution
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has been the birthplace of compromise and delivered some of the great legislative achievements that have reshaped our nation out of compromise. bipartisan compromises here in the senate, the passage of the social security act of 1935, the civil rights act of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965, the creation of medicare in 1965, social security reforms of 1983. we all know that during the constitutional convention, roger sherman and oliver elsworth of connecticut developed a bicameral legislative structure that broke a deadlock, and it created -- it's in the constitution. it is why we have a senate and a house today, compromise. everyone who remembers the history books remembers the compromise of 1850 drafted by henry clay that defused a four-year confrontation between
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the slave states of the south and the free states of the north. even in our most difficult moments, we have been able to find a way to compromise. mr. president, in the end, it is people who define this place. it's we senators. and in my conversations with colleagues on the other side of the aisle, i am convinced that there are plenty of people here who are prepared to reach across the aisle and prove that the united states and the united states senate can live up to this moment, and i believe in the next 48 hours the senate will prove our ability to live up to our constitutional and our personal responsibility. mr. president, i believe that the senator from iowa wants to speak. mr. president, i apologize. a senator: how much time do we have left, madam president? the presiding officer: 11 minutes. the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i will take 11 minutes. i ask unanimous consent that when the time comes back on the
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democratic side that i be granted an additional five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president, i'd like to remind the american people why we are in the midst of the present crisis. days away from when the united states of america, the wealthiest nation in the world, will not be able to pay its bills. and let me be clear that the senator from oklahoma earlier had a chart up saying we're broke, broke, broke. we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. we have the highest per-capita income of any major nation in the world. if we're so rich, why are we so broke? now, the issue here, despite what some may suggest, is not about new borrowing or new spending. it's about paying the bills. what we have already incurred. yet, the republicans after running up a huge credit card bill under george bush do not want to pay the bills. as every american knows, if you use your credit card, you run up debt, you have to pay the bills. and throughout american history, whether a democratic or
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republican congress or democratic or republican president, that's what we as a nation have done. on this point, it couldn't be more clear than this letter to senator howard baker from president ronald reagan." the full consequences of a default -- or even the serious prospect of default -- by the united states are impossible and awesome to contemplate. denigration of the full faith and credit of the united states would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. the nation can ill afford to allow such a result." president ronald reagan, 1983. it can't get much clearer than that. however, today ronald reagan would find himself losing in a republican party primary because he would not be pure enough for the tea party. because republicans in the house are unwilling to do what even ronald reagan said needs to be done, we find ourselves in the
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midst of a manufactured crisis, a manufactured crisis, one without precedent. one house of congress willing to jeopardize the economy of the united states unless the country capitulates and accepts policies that otherwise do not enjoy a majority support, policies that could not pass the congress, policies that would be vetoed by the president. this is simply unprecedented. madam president, i believe this unprecedented action requires an unprecedented response. as at other critical junctures in our history, the president must act boldly to protect our constitution and more importantly our country. madam president, the constitution never envisioned that one house of congress would willingly destroy the united states economy in order to obtain policy objectives it
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could not achieve through the normal legislative process, yet that's the situation our nation finds itself in. the legislative process is hard, it's frustrateing. trust me, there are many ideas and proposals that i have fought my entire career on to become law, and they never are like i envisioned starting out because you make compromises along the way. yet, rather than engaging in the hard work of persuading the american people, persuading a majority of the house, persuading a majority of the senate, persuading the president, a task which often takes years and multiple elections, the house republicans want to short circuit the legislative process by holding the economy hostage. for example, if the republicans in the house put forth a bill to eliminate medicare, it wouldn't get anywhere, yet with their cut, cap and balance budget amendment, it would shrink the
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government to the size it was prior to medicare even taking hold, and that would mean that we would have to do away with medicare. however, that could never pass here on its own. likewise, i read that speaker boehner recently suggested to the president that the house would vote to allow the united states to pay its bills if the president would agree to repeal health care reform. in other words, take away health insurance from 30 million americans, allow health insurance companies to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. the house could never achieve these policy objectives through the normal process so they hold the economy hostage. think about that. madam president, this is not just the attitude of the republican party with respect to the debt limit. the republican party has adopted an entirely new approach to democracy that is wholly
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undemocratic. if they cannot win elections or win the court of public opinion, they insist on holding the country hostage. the minority leader has been frank about this approach to governing. in a recent speech about a balanced budget amendment, the minority leader of the u.s. senate, the republican leader said the following, and i quote -- "the time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces washington to balance its books. the constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. we have tried persuasion, we have tried negotiations, we have tried elections. nothing has worked." say again. say again. we have tried elections and nothing has worked? what is he implying? furthermore, i would say to the republican leader we had surpluses in 1998 and 1999, in 2000 and 2001. we had four years of surpluses,
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and yet somehow we have tried elections and nothing's worked. is he implying that somehow we need to have another course of action outside of elections, outside of persuasion, outside of negotiation? president bush's former speechwriter recently commented on the increasingly absurd and unrealistic demands put forth by house republicans before they agree not to destroy the american economy. he noted -- quote -- "why doesn't the new boehner bill just require obama to resign in favor of a republican before the second debt ceiling increase j j -- increase j "end quote. sadly, that's not too far from the truth. in the face of this radical, radical and cynical approach to governing, we're faced with a manufacturing crisis. indeed, the ramifications for our economy, our middle class,
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indeed for americans' ability to trust and believe in their government. the stakes could not be higher. in response, in the absence of a balanced approach that could be agreed upon broadly in the senate and the house, i believe the president must act boldly. he must carry out his constitutional duty to honor the commitments the united states government has made. i believe the president under the 14th amendment of the constitution must honor the obligations of the united states government. as the supreme court noted in perry v. u.s., chief justice hughes' opinion, "the 14th amendment, in its fourth section, explicitly declares the validity of the public debt of the united states, authorized by law, shall not be questioned. while this provision was undoubtedly inspired by the desire to put beyond question the obligations of the government issued during the civil war, its language
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indicates a broader connotation." chief justice hughes goes on to say -- "the constitution gives to the congress the power to borrow money on the credit of the united states, an unqualified power, a power vital to the government, upon which in an extremity its very life may depend. the binding quality of the promise of the united states is of the essence of the credit which is so pledged. having this power to authorize the issue of definite obles for the payment of money borrowed -- definite obligations for the payment of money borrowed, the congress has not been vested with authority to alter or destroy those obligations." one more time. congress has unlimited power to borrow, but the congress has not been vested with authority to
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alter or destroy the obligations. i don't think it could be more clear. it could not be more clear. congress has not been vested with the authority to alter or destroy the nation's credit obligations. of course, that means that congress cannot through its actions repudiate the nation's debt, but it also means through its inaction, failing to raise the debt ceiling, it cannot repudiate our country's obligations. thus, rather than somehow prohibiting the president from taking action to protect the full faith and credit of the united states, as some have suggested, i believe the clear reading of the 14th amendment as supported by perry v. united states, i believe the president is obligated, obligated to ensure that in the words of the 14th amendment the public debt not be questioned. i know the legal scholars have
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spent some time in recent weeks debating the meaning of the 14th amendment with respect to the debt ceiling, but madam president, where there is debate on the meaning of the constitution, where there is no precedent, where the courts have not weighed in, where under our system of government we can't just walk across the street to the supreme court and ask them for an advisory opinion, i want to remind the president that the constitution does not belong to law professors. it does not belong to political pundits. it does not belong to columnists. rather, it belongs to the american people. and you, mr. president, you, mr. president, have been entrusted by the american people in a very clear election to, as it says right here in the constitution, faithfully execute the office of the president of the united states and to the best of your ability preserve,
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protect and defend the constitution of the united states. so, mr. president, mr. president, the 14th amendment makes clear the full faith and credit of the united states cannot be destroyed. the only case on point ever decided by the supreme court said that congress cannot alter or destroy those obligations, cannot. so, if the congress, through action or in, a, tries to destroy those obligations, i believe it is incumbent upon the chief executive to exercise his authority, to exercise his authority to make sure that the full faith and credit of the united states is not jeopardiz jeopardized, is not jeopardized. the president should use his authority to do so, and i will give you three examples where there is no precedence, where there's no clear authority in the constitution but where the
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president exercised that kind of authority. thomas jefferson purchasing the louisiana purchase. he wrote letters, and i have them here, and i'm going to ask that they be submitted at this point in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: thomas jefferson's letters to senator breckenridge where he ago niced whether he as president had the authority under the constitution to consummate the treaty for the purchase of the louisiana purchase -- of the louisiana territory. but in the end -- and he even said in this letter, perhaps we need a constitutional amendment to go to the congress and go to the states and be ratified before i can do this. but in the end, he realized that that would take a long time, it might fall through, all kinds of bad things would happen, and even one of the framers of our constitution, thomas jefferson, took action, even though there was no clear authority in the constitution for him to do so.
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in fact, the members of the house went after him for it. but he decided that it was better, as he said, to ensure the future benefits of the united states rather than some minor violation of the constitution. second example: president lincoln signing the emancipation proclamation. there was no authority for him to do that. no authority whatsoever. but he did it. he did it, even though some people at that time went after him because he did not have the clear authority in the constitution to do so. third example: franklin roosevelt, the lend-lease program with great britain to make sure they could fight off the invasion. franklin roosevelt wrote that he didn't think this was probably constitutional, but he instructed his attorney general
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-- he gave his own attorney general a legal opinion from the president saying that the country needed to have this done. and he went ahead and did it. and again some people took after him on it but we all realized it was the right thing to do. -- for the survival of our own country. those are just three instances, there are more, but those are three big ones where, again, no clear authority by the constitution but no pro hicks in the constitution for the -- but no prohibition in the constitution to do so and where the vital security of the united states was at stake. i'll close on this: i believe this is just like those times. the security, the future improvement of the united states, and future generations depend upon the president taking this action, boldly and forthrightly, to preserve the integrity and to make sure that
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the obligations and the full faith and credit of the united states is not questioned. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: madam president, thank you. i wonder if i could ask how much time is allocated? i know we're a little oust kill tear with the -- we're a little out of kilter with the allocation of time. how much time do i have to speak and i want to make sure my colleagues have sufficient time to speak also. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the republicans control the next 2 4 minutes. mr. coats: all right. i will not begin to hughes that amount of time. i think i can use 10 or less and then leave some time for my colleagues. i can't count how many times i've been here yo speaking about
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the same subject. it is a subject that has occupied all of us, as it has for this entire session of the united states congress. three days are left until we reach that date in which the white house has said -- and the treasury has said we default on our obligations. right now we are debating on a saturday night over a bill that's already been defeated in the senate by a very substantial vote, including losing democrat support, debating a bill that we know will not pass here. the irony of being charged with filibustering the majority leader's bill, the reid bill, is somewhat bizarre given the fact that republicans are willing to give senator reid an democrats a vote on this bill as soon as they want it. none of it -- it's been going on now for many, many hours. i think everything that can be said for or against has probably been said, but nevertheless the
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majority leader himself objected to our offer to stop talking on both sides and get to the vote, for whatever reason. but that's where we are. madam president, i have been talking for sometime now about the fact that the current fiscal crisis which the united states is in demands that we as a congress seriously recognize the enormity of the problem and come forward with a bold plan to begin to address over a period of time what is necessary to do to assure financial markets and to assure the american people that we understand the plight that we're in, that we have taken not only rational steps
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but significant steps to address the problem that we're in and that we're ready to put bold plans in place to get us on the path to fiscal health. yet here we are after months of debate, debating over a small step forward, which in my opinion will not begin to satisfy all of those who are concerned about whether or not we truly grasp what is necessary to be done and truly send a signal to the financial world and to the world itself and to the american people that we have taken the necessary step to put our country on the right fiscal path. now, it's clear and it's been said so many times, but i just want to repeat it, our spending addiction over a period of years, which has become much worse in the last two and a half
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years with a 24% increase in spending under the obama administration, with a staggering increase in the debt from $10.6 trillion on inauguration to $3.3 trillion today, a $3.7 trillion increase in just a two-year period of time, maybe a two and a half year period of time. clearly those attempts to address our economy haven't succeeded. the president's stimulus plan cost an additional $862 billion and we clearly haven't gotten stimulus because the latest reports are almost staggering to all of us as we find out that our growth just in this past -- in the first quarter of this year was far under what had been projected, than what had been calculated initially. unemployment is not going down. people are out of work. clearly, we need to make
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significant strides forward. i won't go into all the details of the flaws of the reid plan that's been talked about here by a number of people and soundly rejected by the house. we know it's not going to achieve the necessary number of votes to go forward but here we are debating t but i really want to talk about the larger question. the larger question is, are we going to take significant steps to put us on the right track? are we going to compromise to the point where the rating agencies, the financial world, and eastern the american people look at it and say -- and even the american people look at it and say, is that it? that all you can do? what's interesting here is that it's -- my colleagues on the other side of the aisle talked about a compromise. let's move to the middle on this sort of thing. but it's like taking a scale of 10 and reducin reducing it down. and so instead of the a compromise, ip stead of it being
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a five on the scaifl ten, now we lower the top line to four and say we need to get down to two or one and a half and you're not willing toalg to go that tar and so thrufer a not willing to to compromise. but more importantly, it is illogic that is driving to us an incomplete solution to a very real proke. -- problem. it doesn't take much to understand how this is being viewed. just in the last couple of day, "the new york times" runs a headline basically saying, recovery is still slow and new data show little growth ahead. "the washington post" has a headline "a stranglehold on our national policy." why are we in this debt fix? we have to address health care
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spending. u.s. g.d.p. grows just 1.3%, "the wall street journal." on and on it goes. my own view of this, which is not because i am a brilliant economist -- i'm not; not because i am a financial analyst -- i'm not; what i have talked to -- but i have talked to dozens and more people who don't have a political skin in the game, but simply have analyzed this in an objective way and indicated that unless we come forward with something close to -- actually something above a $4 trillion limit in spending reductions over a decade, combined with a path to entitlement programs restructuring and curbing the excessive mandatory spending, combined with an overhaul of our
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complicated tax code to make american businesses more competitive and spur economic growth, we will not be addressing the problem. so people -- the problem here is that too many people are thinking, if we just end up with this compromise, if one side or the other side will move just a little bit and we end up with this compromise, we will be able to increase -- avoid default on the debt limit and we will have addressed the problem. and for those who say, well, no, it's step one and we can address it in step two the balance we haven't been able to accomplish here, i don't think much people have confidence this n. that when we say we will have a group of senators and congressmen sit down and then report something to us and that'll solve the problem. and the difficulty there is that that's the same people here who haven't been able to solve it in seven months of debate. sometimes with democrats and republicans engaging in those debates.
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i don't think it's going to be solved because we may arrive very much at the same stalemate that we've arisen after seven months of this debate. there are two visions in place here. i think what this is all about is what is the proper role of the federal government and what can the federal government afford to do and not afford to do? on the one hand we have people who say the government has grown too big. republicans are saying we cannot afford it anymore. it is hurting the economy. it's a vision for the future that is very, very different from our colleagues across the aisle who basically see government as much more engaged in the process and don't want to cut back on a number of programs, a number of initiatives, a number of policies that have been put in place over a number of years. and it's not quite that clearly divided by this aisle. there are people on both sides
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that have shades of one way or shades of the other way. but the reality is, if we look around the world and we lack at models as to what makes economies flourish and what makes governments financially stable, we see that an overgrowth of promises, an overpromising parliaments and congresses finally brings us to the point where you no longer can afford what you promise people. that's where we are now. and so without putting those practices in place, i fear that whatever we do won't be sufficient. we'll get the downgrade anyway. we may get a precipitous action that puts news a far different -- a more difficult situation than it would have been had we come forward with something significant now, at a level in which those who are analyzing this say they've got it, they're serious about it they've locked it in, they've made sure it can't be overturned and this is
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where we're going and we have injected certainty into the future, even though some of that certainty is painful, it will be rewarded, i believe, with support because it is sufficient to take the necessary first step. now, knowing we're three days away from default i propose that if we can't come to an agreement on something of sufficient size, we should provide an extension, short term, whether it's four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, a short-term extension guarantee that we won't default for the -- put the amount of money on the increase and the return on the increase in the debt ceiling in return for an equivalent amount of spending cuts and give us some time to come together and do what i have outlined here or something close to what i've outlined here so that in the end, we do not have an immediate default, we do have a commitment to go forward and put something of substance in place, and give it one last
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shot. maybe i'm a starry eyed optimist. maybe i'm just hoping that whatever we do here is not -- can be built upon and brought to the point where it will become effective, rather than fearing that what we do will be relegated as a step far too short to address the problems of our time. madam president, i wish we had done more. i think we still can do more. but decisions have to be made in a very quick matter of time here. but whatever we do, and even if we end up passing something that's insufficient i hope we will start to work the very next day on addressing the real problems that we face and putting something in place that will restore confidence that america is not going to become a
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second-rate nation, that we're not going to see a devaluation of our dollar, we're not going to see a loss of confidence in the american people and investors in the world in terms of this is the place to do business, to live, to prosper prosper, to have a safe haven for your funds. with that, i yield the floor. mr. portman madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i appreciated the comments of my colleague from indiana i got to hear a moment ago. i think he's absolutely right, we have deeper and more important problems that we need to address along with the important decision we make over the next 24 hours on the debt
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limit. it's necessary to extend the debt limit but it's not sufficient. we also have to deal with these underlying fiscal problems and to my colleague from indiana, i think you stated that well. i rise today, madam president, to talk about the debt limit proposal, and talk about how we can provide a pathway forward on a bipartisan basis. again not just to solve this immediate problem that confronts us but also to deal with these deeper and very serious problems we have with our fiscal deficits and a weak economy. it may be good to start by asking why we're here. we're here because we have a law that says that the u.s. government can only borrow so much. and the law says that the u.s. government can only borrow up to $14.3 trillion. that's a lot of money. $14.3 trillion is almost the size of our entire economy now. it's probably 95% of our
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economy. this is unprecedented of course. we've never will debts at this level before. many economists look at this and believe that it's already having a very negative impact on our economy to have this huge debt out there because it affects the private sector. but we have come to this $14.3 trillion limit and now in order for government to continue to provide everyday government services, benefits, to our troops, veterans, social security and so on, the limit needs to be raised. we now borrow at the federal government level more than 40 cents of every dollar that's spent. so it seems to me only common sense that when you've maxed out on your credit card, which is what the federal government has done, and when you have this deep underlying problem of these huge deficits, $1.5 trillion this year, record level also, and mounting debt, that you should deal with the underlying
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problem before you extend the credit card limit. and so that's why we're here. and i think it's an appropriate debate. i wish it could have been resolved sooner. i think that it can be resolved over the next day or so. but i think it's an important discussion that we have to have. the president has made it clear that he'd like the debt limit increased and he would like it increased high enough to last through the 2012 election. interesting because election day is not part of the economic calendar. it's not the end of a fiscal year, it's not the end of a calendar year. it's the political calendar. and it's unfortunate that during this time of such budgetary uncertainty we seem focused on political deadlines. meeting this request the president has made that it be extended until beyond the election would be the largest debt increase that's ever been approved by the united states congress. it would be over $2 trillion.
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so again, i think it's appropriate we have this discussion before we agreed to to -- agree to the largest debt limit increase in the history of our country. we've never raised the debt limit that much at one time before. the president also says that when need to do this because the markets want certainty that a long-term debt limit increase will happen. i think there is something to that in the sense of market certainty. if there could be a longer debt limit increase, i suppose it would add to market certainty. but markets don't just want a solution to this debt limit issue. in fact, i would argue that what they want even more is a solution to the soaring debt itself. and this is not based on conjecture, it's based on looking at what those who are analyzing our economy say. fitch, moody's, standard & poor's, you've heard about these credit agencies, a lot of people are talking about
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them, threatening to downgrade our debt. they say yes, we should extend the debt limit but they say that's just the first step. we have to also deal with the underlying fiscal problems in our country or the downgrade will occur. they want a serious commitment to reining in the spending spree that's buried us in debt this the first place. so it has to be dealt with. a friend of mine sent me an email tonight, keith hennessey, an interesting way to put it for people who follow the financial markets, he said we face both a liquidity crisis right now which is the federal government can't borrow to meet its needs, but we also face a solvency crisis which is the federal government deficits and the accumulation of those deficits and the debt is at historic levels, and already harming the economy and threatening to harm the economy in very significant ways. so we need to deal with both.
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one way to show this commitment to the solvency problem, to the debt problem, is to be sure that we guarantee $1 in spending cuts for every dollar we raise the debt limit. this was laid out several months ago by speaker boehner and i think it's been widely agreed to. you'll see it in the proposal that majority leader reid has proposed. as we'll talk about in a minute, unfortunately some of the budget savings he thought were there based on the congressional budget office analysis are not real cuts. but that was the formula that he used. the president has also talked about this formula and i think it's widely agreed we need to make sure we're only extending the debt limit to the extent that we are reducing spending. so if it's going to be over $2 trillion of debt limit extension, we need to find $2 trillion in spending reductions over time. it's interesting as i've analyzed how this formula would work over time, that it
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actually makes sense for our economy, because if we raise the debt limit a dollar but also cut a dollar in spending, it not only helps us short term but over a 10-year period as i look at this, what the congressional budget office tells us in terms of what the debt is likely to be, just about at the tenth year we would twreal balance the federal budget. not get rid of the debt. the debt will continue to grow all during that time period, unfortunately. but there would actually be at the end of that process an annual balanced budget. by applying that formula. i don't think that necessarily was the intent when the formula was derived but it is interesting that it's a formula that makes sense. to get us at least over 10 years to the point where we're not spending more than we're taking in. given that the president and majority leader would like to see a debt increase of over
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$2 trillion, and republicans and even many democrats, again, want to be sure that there is an equal sized spending cut, it seems there is an obvious way forward. we can raise the debt limit for this extended period of time, but we have to require equal spending cuts and they have to be real. if they aren't meaningful and credible spending cuts, then we'll have the same negative economic consequence we've been talking about tonight. the credit eagdz will downgrade our debt, we'll have entire interest rates which will affect every american family, certainly our mortgages, it affects small businesses, who are trying to hire people to be able to get credit, if have you a car loan it's going to affect you. it affects the entire economy. we've got to deal with this issue in a real way, in a way that is credible and meaningful. unfortunately, the proposal that majority leader reid has put forward although it was
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intended to meet this formula we talked about of a dollar of spending cuts for every dollar of increase, has some spending cuts that do not meet that standard of being credible. and meaningful. the biggest one is about a trillion dollars in what's called the global war on terrorism spending reduction. a little background on this. when you're writing budget baseline, the congressional budget office says you have to assume all the discretionary spending will continue into the future. for the next years they assume for the next 10 years we will spend about $150 billion a year on the wars in iraq and afghanistan. nobody believes or hopes that will happen. it has not been requested by the president. no one intends to spend that money. in fact, the president's own budget assumes that instead of the $1.7 trillion that would be over the next decade, that instead we will spend about $600 billion. that's what the president's budget says. that's what people assume.
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this means that senator reid's proposal to take credit for cutting an additional $1.1 trillion that's not going to be spent anyway is not going to be viewed as a credible proposal. why? because it's money that's not planning to be spent. it's a little like a family saying let's assume we're going to take a vacation we're never nefer going to take and it's going to cost $10,000, and them saying we saved $10,000 on our basketball. i wish it weren't so. i wish the $1.1 trillion was credible spending reductions we could rely on but "the washington post," "the wall street journal," many other observers have looked at this and said frankly it's not meaning a meaningful reduction this spending. so there are some meaningful reductions in spending in the proposal of the majority leader, but this particular one unfortunately is a big part of what he has proposed out of his $2.7 trillion, about
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$1.1 trillion is 24 proposal on the wars in afghanistan and iraq. you might hear it referred to on the floor as the o -- the o.c.o. spending, the overseas contingency operations. second, let's expand this additional round of spending cuts. right now when you take out the war spending we just talked about that's not going to actually materialize, the savings won't materialize, and when you look at the congressional basketball office score -- budget office score of the proposal, the cuts are just under a trillion dollars. still a substantial and i think a credible proposal. of just under a trillion dollars. but that's all that's guaranteed however, washington is scheduled to spend about $46 trillion over that same period, the next decade -- think about that, $46 trillion, increased
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spending by the way about 57% during that time period. so i think we can do a lot better than just cutting a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. and i think we can do it in a bipartisan fashion. i say that because i've identified 2-point trillion dollars in spending -- $2.8 trillion in spending that have been agreed to in a bipartisan process. the biden talks, the gang of six, the president's fiscal commission, some of the president's own discussions, the vice president's group specifically came up with spending reductions in addition to this trillion dollars. so my hope is that we can take some of these spending cuts that have been agreed to through some bipartisan process and apply them to this initial package. finally, majority leader reid and speaker boehner's proposals both have this deficit reduction committee. it's an approach which i think makes sense. to be sure that we get at the
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longer-range problem here which is our unsustainable entitlement programs, tax reform which will help stimulate for economic growth, budget reform which is clearly needed. i've been here six months, we've done nothing on a budget here but the in fact the senate hasn't done a basketball in two years. sounds like we're in need of some reforms to make this place work. so this committee makes sense. the majority leader calls for the committee to reduce the budget deficit to 3% of g.d.p. i think it's an interesting proposal. i think we need to be sure we know how long it would take to reach that level and how long we should maintain it because there is no time frame in his proposal. so 3% of g.d.p., does that mean we would wait until a certain time period, say if it's a ten-year proposal, the ninth year or the tenth year and suddenly make those reductions? if so, the reductions would not be nearly as significant.
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instead, what we should do is put a time frame in place, five years or ten years. i would prefer five. and to say that there will be reductions starting in the first fiscal year to meet the 3% target. if you don't do that, then over that period of time, five years or ten years, we will not see the kinds of reductions in spending that i think majority leader reid would like to see, and i know that many of us here on this side of the aisle believe is necessary. eventually, we have got to balance the budget as we talked about earlier, and it needs to be something within this 3% committee that leads us to that. also, under the majority leader's bill, there is no requirement to actually enact any of the deficit reduction committee's reforms. i think he has a very interesting proposal in terms of having an expedited process on the floor, an up-or-down vote, no amendments. i think that's smart. but if the deficit reduction committee deadlox -- deadlocks
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or if the deficit reduction committee fails to get the votes on the floor of the senate, there needs to be some sort of mechanism, fail-safe mechanism or so-called trigger for developing dollar-for-dollar cuts. the house plan i think responsibly makes much of this debt limit increase contingent on the cuts being actually approved and signed into law in this committee. if the president and majority leader reid want the entire debt limit increased now, we would need some sort of guarantee that this deficit reduction will actually take place. a commonsense compromise, it seems to me, would be to add sequestration language, meaning you sequester across the board all spending if the deficit reduction committee doesn't work, deadlocks or passes on the floor even under these expedited procedures, i would say you could limit that sequestration to the size of the debt limit increase. not even the size which speaker
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boehner has which is is $1.8 trillion or leader reid has which is higher than that for his debt reduction committee, but just make sure it meets this formula to the period that the president would like to see. that seems to me to be the kind of proposal that at this late hour could be agreed to and certainly should be. sequestration, by the way, is not a new concept. it's enforced nearly every budget reform law of the past 20 years in the united states congress. it can guarantee that one way or another, we will receive the deficit reduction equal to the debt limit increase, which is again the intent by majority leader reid, speaker boehner and others. finally, i think we need to allow the senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment. let's have a vote. leader reid's talked about that. speaker boehner has talked about that. i think it's important to provide the representatives of the american people the opportunity to have an up-or-down vote on a balanced
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budget or many forms of a balanced budget because there are different iterations of a balanced budget. it seems that this path forward should be able to satisfy both sides. the president, majority leader would get the larger debt limit increase they want. there would be guaranteed deficit reduction as necessary to begin fixing the budget and ensure financial markets that we're up to the task. so i think, madam chair, when you look at the various options that we've got before us, there is a way forward here. it's a way forward that says let's ensure that we actually have this up-front spending. let's remove the global war on savings because it doesn't work. let's strengthen the initial savings, provide guarantees that this deficit reduction committee will actually work, and then let's have a vote on the balanced budget amendment. madam president, finally, i've heard the president talk about
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the importance of having a debt limit increase because of the market uncertainty in the economy. i agree that we need to do what we can to estimate plate the economy. we have had bad news this week. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. portman: i ask unanimous consent for 30 additional seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: however, again, getting back to our earlier discussion, if we simply extend the debt limit and don't deal with the underlying issue of our fiscal problems, what we call earlier the solvency crisis, we will have the same negative economic consequences. with low growth in this quarter and unfortunately high unemployment over 9%, we need to do everything we can to encourage pro growth economic policies here that includes tax reform as we talked about, that includes using the energy resources we have in this country, that includes regulatory relief and yes it includes dealing with our debt and deficit. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor.
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i rise to speak on the reid amendment. madam president, first of all, i'm sorry that we're engaged in a filibuster. we are using parliament procedure in a way that only delays us taking votes. we are days away from default. we are days away from our bond rating to be downgraded. if we fail to raise the debt limit, the united states of america will be irrevokably fractured. we cannot fail and we cannot falter. we must act and we must act tonight. now, last night, the senate rejected the boehner plan because it wasn't a solution. it would lead us over the cliff because it did not meet certain
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tests. if the republicans force us into default or a downgrade, it will be the biggest tax increase on americans. when interest rates go sky high, it will be a tax on americans. we know that we have to agree to additional spending cuts, but it's got to be long term. we have to have a path forward for eliminating tax earmarks and entitlement reform that does not lead to a stampede to shrink social security benefits or to raise the medicare age. mr. boehner took it upon himself last week to come up with a solution. he told the president he, mr. boehner, was the guy to do it. well, he didn't succeed. his proposal was failed leadership and failed economics because he did not meet the threat to our economy from default and downgrade.
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mr. boehner insisted that there be a vote in december to raise the debt ceiling, that the house and senate must pass balanced constitutional amendments. madam president, that's false. you know, in america, we can guarantee a vote but we can't guarantee an outcome. here are the facts. we will be downgraded if we don't take action or if action is not taken seriously, so we must have serious policy, we must have a pragmatic process to reform taxes and also the way to deal with entitlements. those who weigh our credit like moody said a short-term extension would lead to downgrade in credit. now, under the boehner proposal, we would be downgraded immediately. because of this criteria.
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the republicans' refusal to say yes to the $2 trillion spending cuts that is proposed in the reid resolution is mind-boggling. we're agreeing to $2 trillion worth of cuts. now, as a democrat, as a new deal democrat, as a fair deal democrat, i have now agreed to more cuts than i would ever do under any other circumstances. i have compromised. other democrats of my political persuasion have compromised. where's the compromise on the other side? we need compromise, first of all, to get a vote and then to get it done. i am really scared that if interest -- that if we go into a default, interest rates will skyrocket, but the president is going to have to set priorities.
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benefits will be affected. madam president, today i have a marine corps pin on. why did i wear a marine corps pin? first of all, because of their words -- semper fi, always faithful. how about us? why can't we be as good as the military we send into war? those men and women are willing to put their life and their lives -- their lives on the line to fight and defend for democracy. why can't we be willing to put our political careers on the line to fight and defend democracy? i'm willing to make the tough choices. i have already made a tough choice, to support this significant and draconian cuts in domestic spending, with very little coming out of defense when more should come. i wanted to get rid of sacred cows like the ethanol subsidy, like the oil and gas subsidy, those sacred cows that just slurp it up and milk the public
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trough. but oh, no, we couldn't go to revenues. we just had to go to cuts. so guess what? democrats have compromised. we have gone 80% of the way. why can't they come the other 20% and say yes to reid. reid gives us a deadline through 2013 which provides the certainty that the credit ratings look like. we make a significant down payment on reducing the debt, and we have a political process, and i'm willing to put more teeth in it, a political process to get rid of tax earmarks, and that's what they are, make no mistake. they are tax earmarks for the pampered and the prosperous. i'm ready to reform that and then taking the look at entitlement reform. madam president, i think the reid proposal is the path forward. what i say is we wrap up.
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could we put politics aside? could we put partisan sniping aside? could we not come together? now, we on this side of the aisle have made 80% of a compromise. we look to the other side to give us the other 20%, but then it will be not giving the democrats that. it will be ensuring the solvency and security of the united states of america. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. sanders: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the alternating blocks continue until 9:00 p.m. in the following manner -- majority controlling the time until 8:20 p.m., republicans controlling the next 30 minutes, and the majority controlling the remaining time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you, madam president. madam president, the tea party members in the house have achieved, achieved a remarkable feat. as "the new york times" put
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today, and i quote -- "the scope of their victory in reshaping the debt ceiling bill to reflect the fiscal hawkishness of the most conservative house members cannot be overstated." end quote. in other words, despite democratic control over the white house, despite democratic control over the senate, despite overwhelming opposition from the american people, a small minority of the members of the republican-controlled house have successfully pushed an extreme right-wing agenda onto the american political landscape. this right-wing ideology is a set of beliefs which represent the interests of the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations. it is an ideology which ultimately wants to destroy social security, medicare and medicaid and make devastating cuts in education, head start, environmental protection, nutrition, infrastructure and
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every other program which protects the interests of working families and the middle class. it is an ideology which believes that despite the fact that the rich are getting richer, the middle class is shrinking and poverty is increasing, all, all of the burden for deficit reduction should rest on working people. despite the fact that in the last 25 years, the top 1% have achieved 80% of all new income, what this right-wing ideology says, we have got to cut back on education. we have got to cut back on health care. we have got to cut back on social security, medicare, medicaid and every other program that a middle class and a working class, hurting desperately in the midst of this recession, depend upon. in my view, madam president, this is an ideology which is
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grotesquely immoral and it is also bad economic policy. it has failed time after time, most recently during the bush administration when during his eight years in office we lost 500,000 private sector jobs, the worst job performance record in modern american history. it is an ideology which in poll after poll has been rejected by the american people. for examplñ -- for example, recently a few days ago a "washington post" poll came out. 72% of the american people -- and this is similar to every other poll that i have seen -- says that if we're going to be effective in dealing with deficit reduction, the most preferred way is to ask those people making more than $250,000 a year to pay more in taxes. 72% of the american people. the republicans, on the other hand, have fought time and time
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again to say that the wealthy and the largest corporations, some of which make billions in profit, pay nothing in taxes. they are not to be asked for one cent of sacrifice in deficit reduction. just working families, just children, just the elderly, just the sick. madam president, it seems to me that in this very late date of this debate, we face four options, none of which are particularly good. the first option is what some of the right-wing extremists have wanted all along. let us default. it's not a problem. so what if millions of social security recipients don't get their check. so what if veterans don't get the check that they were promised. so what if sick people who were dependent on medicare and medicaid can't get the medical help they need. no problem, let's default. clearly, clearly, most of us
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understand that that scenario would be a disaster for this country, for our economy; in fact, for the entire global economy. the second option that we're looking at is a bill that was passed fry in the republican house -- passed friday in the republican house, the so-called boehner bill. this bill would require massive cuts right now to a wide variety of programs, and most importantly, pro -- it would bring this congressional circus back into action immediately because within six months we'd have to go over this debate once again. this is an absurd proposal. and included in that proposal, because they want huge amounts of cuts six months from now, no question, no question massive cuts to social security, medicare, medicaid. that is what the boehner proposal is about. the third option is the reid bill. this bill, while no means, by no means as destructive as the
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boehner bill, is also bad news for working families because of the republican commitment to the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations, it also would make heavy cuts on working families and not one penny of revenue coming from the rich and large corporations. madam president, let me discuss the one remaining option that seems to me to make some sense, not a great option but the best available. and that's already been spoken about by my good friend, tom harkin. it seems to me that the least onerous option available to us today is for the president of the united states to exercise his authority under the 14th amendment to the constitution to pay the debts incurred by the united states. the constitution is very clear in saying that the debts of the united states -- quote, unquote -- shall not be questioned. the president swears an oath to protect and defend the
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constitution, and many constitutional scholars believe that the 14th amendment gives the president the authority and the responsibility to pay our debts regardless of the disfunctionality of the u.s. congress. i think that's just what he should do if he is left with no other way to protect the full faith and credit of the united states. i believe that former president bill clinton is absolutely right in saying that if he was still in the white house, that is what he would do. clinton said -- and i agree with him -- quote -- "i think the constitution is clear, and i think this idea that the congress gets to vote twice on whether to pay for expenditures it has appropriated is crazy." end of quote. let me be clear about exactly what this means and why it is so important that the president use this amendment now at this particular moment in history. let us remember that the debt ceiling was raised 18 times under ronald reagan and seven
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times under george w. bush when the national debt increased by some $5 trillion. madam president, if we concede to the right-wing republicans and if we make all of these cuts right now because they refuse to raise the debt ceiling, this sets a horrendous precedent for the future of congressional action. what this would do is mean that no matter what legislation and appropriations were passed by a future congress, the new congress could simply say we refuse to pay those bills. this would cause massive uncertainty in the financial market, drive interest rates up and cloud the entire legislative process of the u.s. congress. that is wrong and must not happen. mr. president -- madam president, i understand that there are those who disagree with this option, and i respect that. but i think we have an obligation to our senior
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citizens and our veterans to say, yes, you are going to get the social security checks and the other benefits that you have been promised. we have an obligation to our children and to the sick that, yes, you are going to get the medicare and medicaid benefits that you have been promised. and, yes, incredibly, we have an obligation to the men and women in our armed forces who are putting their lives on the line. and we have an obligation to them to make sure that they get paid. so, madam president, if republican recalcitrants prevents us from reaching an agreement, then the president of the united states must do what is best for our people and for the future of this country. he must use his constitutional authority under the 14th amendment to pay our debts. and with that, madam president,
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i would yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: senator boxer. mrs. boxer: madam president, how much time do i have under the order? the presiding officer: 13 1/2 minutes remain on the democratic side. mrs. boxer: thank you. madam president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to consideration of s. res 246 which was submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res 246 recognizing and commending the 2011 national veterans wheelchair games to be held in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, august 1 through august 6, 2011. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mrs. boxer: madam president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table, with no intervening action or debate, and that any statements relating to this measure be printed at the appropriate place
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in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, it's agreed to. mrs. boxer: thank you so much, madam president. and i want to say that i listened very carefully to the senior senator from maryland's remarks about where we find ourselves. and i want to associate myself with her remarks at what a dire situation we are in at this moment. we really stand here tonight on the edge of an economic calamity. why is that? america is at the brink of being unable to pay our bills, bills that we already voted to pay way in the past. when you raise the debt ceiling, it's not about future spending. it's about meeting your obligations. how did we get to this debt? how did we get to this debt? well, for many years we ran
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deficits and they added up. but i remember when bill clinton was president -- and, madam president, i know you remember this -- we balanced the budget. we didn't have a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. we balanced the budget by sitting down and figuring out what was wasteful spending, what was important investments. we had economic growth, 23 million new jobs and all the revenues that came with it. we had surpluses. and when george w. bush became president, he said this surplus, i've got to give this back to the people, and he gave it back to the millionaires and billionaires. and he put two wars on the credit card and, poof, there went the surplus. and then he had a prescription drug benefit, but he didn't pay for it, and there went the surplus. so, two wars on the credit card,
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prescription drug benefit on the credit card, and tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires on the credit card. and all of a sudden, we started to see the debt rise. now, my republican friends who have suddenly discovered this debt, never said a word when george bush was president and we raised the debt ceiling nine times. did you see the democrats out here on the floor threatening to hold up the whole country? did you see the democrats saying, we won't give george bush an increase in the debt ceiling unless he does whatever we want. we didn't do that. we shouldn't dover that. that's what's going on here. republicans, led by the far extreme of their party, are holding this country hostage, and they are saying unless they get their way, they won't relent. now, i pray and i hope and i'm
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talking to my republican friends in these hours that we'll be able to come to some agreement. but i will say this. we are facing now a filibuster by my republican friends. they will not allow us to vote on the reid amendment with just a majority vote. they're demanding a supermajority. and what i find interesting is they didn't demand a supermajority vote over in the house for the boehner proposal. that was just done by a simple majority. now they say we need a supermajority to vote on the reid proposal. harry reid has his door wide open, madam president. you know that as well as i. he has invited mitch mcconnell, all the republicans, come on here, i'm here. i'm ready to negotiate. what is it that you need? so far we know there are conversations going on among
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members. we don't see that leadership coming from leader mcconnell, and i hope he's rethinking this because the whole world is watching and they see a filibuster tonight, and they understand which side is trying to resolve it. now, how did we really get here? i explained how we got to the debt. how did we get to this moment? well, the debt ceiling needed to be raised and our republicans said to our president, "we're not going to give you a clean debt ceiling increase. we want to sit down and work on some cuts to the budget. and guess what? the president said, well, i don't know, but we'll do it. come on in; we'll do it. and then the president said, you know what? let's get a really big deal. let's get a $4 trillion deal. let's get out of this budgetary crisis. and the president gave and gave and gave. and what was the reward?
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first, eric cantor stalked out of the talks. stalked out. i don't want to be part of this. he took his little blankie and went home. then john boehner, he's in the talks, and he walks out of the talks not once, but twice. and he said, "well, i'm done with this. i'm going to work with the people on capitol hill. i'm going to go talk to the bipartisan leadership here." we said, fine, we'll try to work with you. but they want everything their way. my way or the highway. if you ever looked up what compromise means, it means everybody gives a little. a, we didn't want to attach this to the debt ceiling increase. we said, okay, we'll do it. you feel strongly about it, we'll do it. they said, okay, we don't want
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any new revenues. they don't want to touch millionaires and billionaires, god forbid, they should pay $5 more a year to help us. we said, you know what? we think it's wrong, but if that's what you're saying we'll just do cuts. that was not happy. harry reid did more cuts than the republicans, twos as many. -- twice as many. that still wasn't good enough for them. it's always more of what they want. now, i raised a family, and i know sometimes it's tough. this is the american family. if you have an argument between two kids in your family -- i happen to have two children. now i have four grandchildren. they argue. you've got to say let's listen to each other first. i'll give up something, you give up something. let's meet in the middle. oh, no.
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and then you think well, wait a minute. why do they think they deserve every single thing they want? what are they thinking? do they run the united states senate? no. the democrats do. madam president, you and i just won reelection. you were the longest-serving woman ever in this united states senate. i'm so proud to know you. you have had some hard races in your life. i had the toughest race in my life coming back here, but i came back here. leader reid came back here. patty murray came back here. michael bennet came back here and we run the senate. president obama is the president. he happens to be a democrat. and the house won a huge victo victory, the republicans, a huge victory. the republicans run the house, the democrats run the senate, the president is a democrat.
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let's see, that's three branches, two-thirds run by the democrats. the republicans want it all. if one of my kids did that, if they were arguing with the other one, i'm say uh-huh, that's not right. i'm not even asking for two-thirds. as senator mikulski said, we've come a long way from where we want to come. where have they come? they haven't come toward us. now the plan that the republicans want is to revisit this debt crisis in three months, four months, five months from now. imagine royaling the markets. i used to be a stop broke -- a r the very long time ago. and in those years, when the president got a call, the market went down and everyone was worried. but we've never had a crisis
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like this. you know we have raised the debt limit 89 times in our history. no political party, no republican party, no democratic party has ever held the debt ceiling increase hostage to their desires, hopes and dreams. and what does the other side want? they'll be honest -- not all of them. they want cuts in social security, medicare. they even had a proposal over in the house to end medicare as we know it. we're not going there. we will not go there. and we will not be revisiting this every three, four months. it's a recipe for a downgrade in our bonds. it's a recipe for turmoil in the marketplace. it's a recipe for higher mortgage rates. it's a recipe for more unemployment. it's a recipe for chaos. it's a recipe for chaos. i'd be happy to.
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[inaudible] the presiding officer: would the senator please use a microphone. mr. brown: i'm sorry. madam president? thank you. sorry i didn't address the chair. senator boxer, i was on the phones today listening to people call in from ohio, taking calls, and i heard so many people very afraid of the boehner legislation and what might come out of a further compromise. senator reid, as you said, has offered a good many cuts and -- and, you know, doing -- doing this in a way that's bipartisan. are you hearing that in your state, that there's a real fear that they might -- that -- that the republicans in the house certainly are insisting on social security and medicare cuts and what that would mean to people in your state? mrs. boxer: well, absolutely. we, as un, are the largest state in the -- we, as you know, are the largest state in the union. 38 million people. we have more people on social security than any other state, medicare. and they know what the stakes are.
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they're smart. and if you look at the polls, 70% of the people say talks millionaires and billionaires, they should pay their fair share. spare social security, medicare, education and the things that we need. but we are here in a manmade crisis. this is unnecessary. this has never been done before, and i think the people have to understand that. never, ever has this been done before. we raised the debt ceiling 18 times when ronald reagan was president, and i happened to be in the house of representatives. and, yes, a few people here and there voted "no" once in awhile but no one ever thought of bringing down that vote. because we can't have the greatest country in the world defaulting on our bonds. we can't have us defaulting on our contracts. small businesses are calling me,
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i say to my friend from ohio and my friend from maryland and my friend from alaska, small businesses are calling me, they're saying they can't get credit now. the banks are fearful. they're only getting overnight credit. what are we doing in this manmade crisis? we have a long history of wor working together at times like this. leader reid's office is open, the door is open. so this is the time to work together. we have until 1:00 in the morning, when we hope we can get an up-or-down vote on leader reid's proposal. i know there are talks going on. i've been talking to my republican friends. they want to find a way out of this. but you know what? we have to pledge allegiance to the flag, not to grover nor quis --grover norquist. we have to do what is right for the country. and i pray and i hope that we
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do. and i will say this, if we fail this, i hope the president will invoke the 14th amendment and everyone should read it. it says the debt of the united states shall not be questioned. and if we can't get together, the president will have to take that responsibility. but i hope we can and show the world that we can still work together. thank you very much, madam president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the gentlelady from alaska. ms. murkowski: thank you, madam president. i follow my friend from california and i agree wholeheartedly with her that the united states of america cannot default on its debts and obligations. and i would like to think that every 100 of us in this body would concur and agree that we must, using every tool that we
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have at our disposal, using all of our relationships and what we have built as members here in this body and in the -- the -- the house of representatives, that we use our best efforts to ensure that we do not default as a nation but that we go further, that we go further and we offer the people of this country a solution to the problems that have led us to the point that we are today. we have heard a great deal over the course of these past few days about the boehner plan and whether it's good, bad or indifferent, and now the reid plan and whether it is good, bad or indifferent, and we assumably know what the republicans want and what the democrats want. but, madam president, what do the people of this country want right now? i don't know what all of the
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people of america want, but i can give you some ideas about what i'm hearing from the people of alaska and what they're concerned about and what they want from the united states senate, from the u.s. house of representatives and from the president of this country. what they want is they want us to fix it. ah, that it should be so easy -- just fix it. but they expect us to do just that. they expect us to fix this problem. that's why they have entrusted us with their confidence by allowing us the privilege to come and represent them in this body to help resolve these issues. but they don't expect that i, as a republican, am going to resolve it with just republica republicans. they expect that we, as members of the senate, will resolve this, republicans and democrats alike. they believe that we will achieve a compromise built on
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the good ideas that come from the republicans and the good ideas that come from the democrats. and we come together to solve the problems that affect the people in the great state of maryland and the people in the great state of alaska and all the places inbetween. so in our effort to fix us, they expect us to compromise. compromise should not be a negative or a nasty term. it should be what we all work to achieve jointly. i would suggest that the other thing that the people are looking for is honesty. they're listening to this deba debate. i've -- we have received phone calls in my office all day today. we've been receiving them all -- all week, and i think so many of us have picked up the phones ourselves to hear what people are saying when they are calling in. and they're saying, wait a
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minute, you guys are throwing numbers around and, you know, first of all speaker boehner puts out a plan, and, well, it doesn't achieve the 1-1 ratio that he thought so he pulls it back and now we've got another set. and now senator reid has his proposal on the floor but people are talking about this $1 trillion that is going to go for the -- for the war effort in afghanistan and iraq that we know is not real -- really real and that these are phantom numbers. and they're saying, who are we to believe? why are you not honest with us about the proposals that are out there? does it cut? would you expect that it will cut? if, in fact, we're going to b be -- be focused on entitlements, social security, if we're going to be talking about tax revenues and how we might deal with tax reform, can you not be honest with us, the american people, your constituents, the people that you represent? they want a level of honesty in this discourse and we owe that
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to them. the other thing that the people are looking for is certainty. there was some of my colleagues who spoke earlier in the day and they were speaking from the perspective of -- of small businesses and how as a small businessman or a large business person, for that matter, how it's imperative that in order for you to make those business judgment decisions in terms of whether or not you're going to expand, whether you're going to bring on a -- additional employees, you need to have a level of certainty in terms of what's going to go on, what's going to happen with tax policy, what is -- what is the -- the future of the economy going to be, what is the jobs picture like. and it's not like we all have a crystal, shiny ball out there that we can predict with great precision. we don't. we don't. but what we ought not be doing is to inject greater uncertainty
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and that's what is happening right now. all throughout this summer, all throughout this summer, we have kind of strung people along. we all knew that august 2 was coming. we all knew that the revenues coming in and the outlays going out were not going to be measuring up and we were going to be dealing with the potential for a default, we were going to be dealing with a potential for a downgrade in our credit rating. this is no surprise to anybody. that's where our crystal ball actually is pretty transparent. and yet we -- we're not able to pull it together, we're not able to pull it together, we -- we manage to -- to take a recess last week even though we were all promised that we were going to be here working round-the-clock because we had important business to do. i was here with a colleague on friday afternoon -- friday morning after the vote and looked around, realized i was perhaps the last senator left here in washington, d.c. i got on a plane at 2:30 that
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afternoon to go to alaska, for crying out loud. you know, we should have been here last weekend doing this instead of mere hours, hours before we are up against our default deadline. and so what does this do to the certainty or the uncertainty in the economic climate, to the investment climate? i -- i -- i hesitate to be one that would suggest that we need to be making market decisions because we can't figure out what's going on here, but i can tell you, because i'm hearing it in the halls, people are saying, "well, i don't know about you, but i'm looking at my investment fund, my retirement fund and i'm moving things." that's the kind of confidence they have in our ability to figure it out here. we are seeing -- we are seeing it translate in the numbers. we saw that at the end of the week with -- with the markets.
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we know that tomorrow evening when the asian market open, everybody in the world -- this is not just the people here in washington, d.c., but everybody in the world from the financial community -- is looking to see whether or not we as a congress have figured it out, have -- if we have fixed it. and if we don't, that continued uncertainty just continues this spiral. we can do a lot here in the united states senate. we can do a lot in the congress. we can pass bills and the president can sign them into l law. but one of the things that we cannot really legislate is we cannot tell the markets, shape up. we can't tell the markets, pull it back in, everything's going to be okay. they're picking up on signals, and the signals right now are a level of uncertainty that is really rattling. the other thing, madam preside madam president, that i think the people of this country are hoping for, are asking for is a level of civility and respect
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within this body, to our president, to those in the other body. we all come from different persuasions. alaska is different than maryland. my politics are different than your politics, madam president, but i have great respect for you. and we can't argue and we can -- and we can argue and we can disagree, but we don't need to poke fingers in one another's eyes to get our point across. and i think what the people have seen, as we have engaged in this debate, is something that does not do justice to the integrity of this institution. we need to get back to that point where we can engage in good debate and disagree heartily and make our arguments without being disrespectful of
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one another, and the perspectives that we as individuals, representing our constituencies and our states, bring to the table. so the hour is late. we'll have a vote at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. how dignified. what body comes together at the darkest hour to cast a vote? last evening i had my brother and sister-in-law, who were in town -- they were passing through very quickly -- and they were actually able to be here and watch for about an hour and a half while we were engaged in a vote on the floor, and my brother and sister in law, pretty educated people, they follow news, they follow the politics, fascinated, fascinated by what was going on in this body and really trying to understand what it was that was going on.
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and i was trying to convey to them, and i realized, if its a he this time -- if it's this difficult for me as a member of this body to explain to stheabs really pretty plugged in to what is going on what is happening here, imagine the confusion of the person who just occasionally tunes in to c-span, who reads the news or watches the evening news but really isn't following the day-to-day. what we have managed to do, madam president, is on a bipartisan basis confuse the american public, anger them, frustrate them, and cause them to be fearful about the future of our country. that's not leadership. we have an opportunity in these next very short days ahead to regain some of this. we have some ideas that are out there, as the senator from
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california has mentioned, and many others have mentioned. there are a great number of talks that are going on. there are talks at the leadership level, there are talks from those of us that are not part of leadership. that's important. but we need to recognize that it's absolutely critical for the future of our country, not the future of our political well-being but the future of our country that we be coming together to resolve the issues, not necessarily just to broker a deal but to find a solution, find a solution that puts the interests of our country above our own political interests. that's where we need to be, madam president. and i am an optimist. i am a person that has the glass always half full. and i remain committed to
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working with those -- all those members who of good will will stand together to work through these difficult details. it's not easy, but they never promised us that it was going to be. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: madam president? the presiding officer: the gentlelady from texas, and before she begins, i'd advise her, her side has 16 minutes and 50 seconds. mrs. hutchison: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise today to speak about the august 2 debt ceiling deadline and the proposal that will be before us very soon developed by the majority leader reid. here we are again debating
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legislation that demonstrates our fundamental differences in how we should run government. i want to quote from a recent article by charles krauthammer that appeared in "the "national review,"" and i think that it says something that i really have been saying several times in the last week, that this is more than just a debt ceiling debate. it is a debate about our views of government that are so different between the parties and our country. and here's what charles krauthammer said. "we're in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of our welfare state, indeed the nature of the social contract between citizen and state. the distinctive visions of the two parties -- social democratic versus limited government --
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have underlane every debate since barack obama's nomination. the auto bailouts, health care reform, financial reform, everything. the debt ceil something but the latest focus of this fundamental divide. the sausage-making," he says," may be unsightly." no argument there. "but the problem is not that washington is broken," as he described it, "that ridiculous, ubiquitous cliche. the problem is that these two visions are in competition and the definitive popular verdict has not yet been rendered." he goes on to say, "we're only at the midpoint. obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform america toward
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european-style social democracy. the subsequent counterrevolution delivered to that project a staggering rebuke in november of 2010." and so i think that really puts a perspective, madam president, on the debates that we have been having in the last two years and the debate that we are seeing now in the last few weeks. i do know that none of us want our country to go into default. both sides can agree on that. all of us are troubled with the delay in resolving this issue. uncertainty is not good for our economy, but a bad agreement is worse. because it will have lasting impact, and it is my opinion that it will also affect our debtors with a message that we're not serious about a $14
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trillion debt and we're not going to do anything that would try to bring it down or bring down the deficits or change the entitlement programs that are a major part -- more than half -- of our budget. i support speaker boehner's bill, and i support the cut, cap, and balance act. both of these plans, in my opinion, contain the right apreach to our budget challenges. -- approach to our budget challenges. i believe the reid plan is the wrong approach. the reid plan contains what they say is a $2.4 trillion debt limit increase, which, if enacted, would result in the single-largest increase in the debt ceiling in the history of america. in addition to this unprecedented increase, the reid plan fails to address our
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current fiscal imbalance. it doesn't do anything to address the fundamental problems. it lacks any adequate enforcement, and it doesn't ensure that long-term spending cuts are carried out. there is no guarantee at all. so you raise the debt limit and you don't have anything but a promise, and that's not good enough. it's not good enough for the elected leaders of our country, and it's certainly not good enough for the american public. the debt ceiling increase in the reid plan is not paid for. many of the cuts outlined in his plan are illusory or hopeful. well, hope is not a strategy, madam president. we can hope to do away with waste, fraud, and abuse, but we can't promise it right now because we don't have it before us. if we had a bill that cuts
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certain amounts from certain agencies because of waste, fraud, and abuse, that would be a commitment that we could uphold. but what we have is a promise that we'll look at it. how many times have we looked at waste, fraud, and pennsylvani ar government programs? yes, we ought to do it, but we should not make it the basis of lifting a debt ceiling that is crushing the economy in our country. to label $1 trillion of cuts as savings from leaving afghanistan and iraq, which senator reid's proposal does, is just not credible. for one thing, we don't know what the future obstacles in afghanistan and iraq are. and we've got to rely -- retain a certain level of stability on
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the ground in afghanistan, and i have met with afghan leaders and women just in the last couple of weeks, and they also agree that, if america leaves precipitously, without knowing what the stability on the ground is -- and we certainly haven't certain stability lately with the assassinations of mayors and leaders, including the half-brother of the leader of afghanistan -- that's not stability; it doesn't say that they are ready yet. so having $1 trillion of cuts could undermine our national security. we don't know that we can count on that. i hope we can. i hope we can leave with the right circumstances on the ground, but that is the only criteria that we should use and not cutting a budget that we
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know is a promise and not a commitment that we are assured that we can keep. most disturbing of all in the reid plan, the only possible justification for a $2.4 trillion increase in borrowing authority is to avoid doing this again before the 2012 elections. madam president, that is not a reason to make public policy. yes, none of us would want to go through this again in the next year. it has been painful, painful for all sides, but just saying, well, we're going to do it with promises and hope for the future is certainly not a way to address a major policy issue, and it is not going to have the credibility with the american people. so, madam president, i believe it would be irresponsible to
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give the president this unprecedented additional borrowing authority without requiring the enactment of significant spending reductions and reforms. to do so would send a worse signal to the markets across the world that are shaky right now looking at this debate. but they are also looking at what the result is going to be, and who is going to win the battle about how we run our government? is it going to be another $2 trillion -- can you imagine, madam president, a $16 trillion debt ceiling? with no commitment to actually make the cuts that would start getting us on the right path. madam president, that is not enough. a understand that'and that's wht
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8:45 on a saturday night debating this issue. because we are not going to give up on our principles of making sure that the fiscal responsibility of our country will be worthy of a aaa rating. will be worthy of the assuredness that, if you buy a bond or a treasury note or invest in the united states of america, that it is a golden commitment. that you can count on it, that you can take it to the bank. that's what we are fighting for right now. and, madam president, i hope so much that we can come to an agreement, because we all agree that defaulting on our debt would not be a good signal to the markets.

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